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Lack of financing forces Maguindanao banana firm to shut down

A banana plantation in Maguindanao is stopping its business operations after it failed to secure loans from Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.

Al Sahar Agri Ventures which has 1,500-hectare banana plantation in its business plan in Maguindanao said it ceased business operations last week.

Al Sahar chairman and chief executive John Perrine announced before thousands of employees, half of whom were rebel-returnees the difficult decision to close down the business which started in November 2014.

Credited with the successful handling of La Frutera, a 1,200-hectare banana plantation which similarly employed former rebels of the Muslim separatist groups, Perrine said he had to bite the bullet after both LBP and DBP stopped processing the loan applications for undisclosed reasons.

Al Sahar invested more than P500 million and was harvesting export quality cavendish bananas in its initial 400-hectare banana plantation.

Perrine said the project was earlier provided assurance of financial support for a concessionary loan from the financing facility to be established with financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency which saw merit in granting low-interest loan to the Al Sahar banana plantation carved out of the municipalities of Talayan, Budon and Datu Odin Sinsuat.

He said the JICA lending program, dubbed “Harvest Fund” was meant to push the return to normal lives of rebel returnees especially in conflict areas. However, the fund was allegedly reduced from $125 million to $40 million because of the realignments with the change in administration.

The $40 million was apportioned to other conflict areas, forcing Al Sahar to seek the financial support from the government banks.

The company, however, said it was not able to secure loans from LandBank and DBP.

Topics: banana plantation , Maguindanao , Land Bank of the Philippines , Development Bank of the Philippines , Al Sahar Agri Ventures
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